The age-varying effects of adolescent stress on impulsivity and sensation seeking

Alexander M. Wasserman, Erin E. Wood, Charles W. Mathias, Tae Joon Moon, Nathalie Hill-Kapturczak, John D. Roache, Donald M. Dougherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adolescence is defined in part by heightened exposure and sensitivity to stressors. In a longitudinal cohort of youth at risk for substance use problems, we examined the age-varying relationship between stress exposure and traits that are central to the dual systems model. The positive associations between stress exposure, impulsivity, sensation seeking varied as function of age. Specifically, the influence of stress exposure on impulsivity strengthened during early adolescence and remained stable into early adulthood, while the influence of stress exposure on sensation seeking strengthened from early- to mid-adolescence and weakened thereafter. These findings suggest that the maturational imbalance between the capacity to regulate impulsive tendencies and sensation seeking may be exaggerated for youth who are exposed to a high number of stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1011-1022
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • dual systems model
  • impulsivity
  • sensation seeking
  • stress
  • time-varying effect model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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